Lucky for You We’re Here to Help!
When thinking about lowering your truck, it’s understandable that you’d have some questions about what’s involved, as well as how to handle any problems that may present themselves after the fact. If it’s your first foray into the world of slammed trucks, you might be anxious making such a huge change to your ride, but lucky for you we’re here to help!
We’ve compiled 10 of the most common questions we get about lowered trucks, along with our thoughts on each. Hopefully they’ll help put your mind at ease when it’s time to drop your own truck and will get you hyped up about living the low life!
1. Can a lowered truck still tow?
Of course! But, like any truck, it has to be set up correctly! Don’t expect to tow much of anything if you cut your front springs and pulled a bunch of leafs out of your rear spring packs. However, if you have a quality lowering kit (with helper bags depending on the truck) or a full-on air-ride setup with properly rated airbags, you’ll be golden.
2. Can you lift a lowered truck?
Well, we say you should have a lifted truck and a lowered truck, but if you insist on lifting your lowered truck, it can definitely be done. If you’re running drop spindles, you’ll have to swap them out for stock or lifted spindles. Same with your front coil springs. If you’ve got a rear axle flip kit installed, you’ll be removing that in order to put your axle back under your leaf springs. And, if you have drop hangers and/or drop shackles, you’ll be swapping those out as well.
In some cases, you might have to buy stock replacement parts if you don’t have the originals. For instance, most people toss their stock leaf hangers when installing drop hangers, so stock ones will have to be purchased before lifting your truck. If you’re wanting to lift a bagged truck, things are a bit more complicated, but it’s totally doable. In reality, though, it’d be much easier to sell the truck and start over with a stock or already lifted truck.
3. How do I raise my lowered truck back to stock?
This one is a lot like the previous question. Basically, you’ll need to replace any lowering parts with stock or factory replacement parts. Drop spindles and coils? Replace them with stock parts. Lowered struts? Swap them out with stock replacements. Same with the rest—drop shackles, drop hangers, and lowered leaf springs all get pulled and replaced with the stock stuff. If your axle is flipped, unflip it with new replacement U-bolts. That frame notch? Well, you’re kind of stuck there unless you want to go through the trouble of replacing that section of frame.
4. How do I make my lowered truck ride SMOOTHER?
In most cases, a lowered truck that rides poorly is due to the owner skimping on something somewhere along the line. Cut (or even worse—heated) springs, improperly valved shocks (or using the factory shocks), and not maintaining enough suspension travel are the usual culprits. You wouldn’t believe how often I’ve seen someone complain about their rough-riding truck, only to crawl underneath and see the front and rear sitting on the bumpstops.
5. Can I align my lowered truck?
A common misconception about lowered trucks is that they can’t be properly aligned. The truth is, it all comes down to how comfortable your local alignment shop is with lowered vehicles. They may not be able to properly align your truck, but a shop that’s well-versed in the ways of lowered suspensions certainly can. Technically, the goal is the same as for a stock truck—get the camber, caster, and toe as close to factory specs as possible to minimize tire wear and maintain optimum performance. To do this, your local shop may need to install a camber kit, which allows for more adjustment than the factory alignment parts.
Yes, you can certainly do an “eyeball” alignment yourself, but that’s usually limited to toe in/toe out since caster is a bit trickier to figure out, and camber adjustment often requires shims/spacers that most people don’t just have sitting around. If you’re really determined to do it yourself, there are plenty of DIY alignment tools on the market, but they can be spendy. We’d only suggest going that route if you plan to change your suspension settings often, such as with an autocross truck.
Our suggestion is to talk to folks at your local cruise spot and ask around about shops that can handle your alignment. And for those of you with bagged trucks, remember to set your truck to your preferred ride height before handing the keys over to the shop!
6. Can I just cut my springs to lower my truck?
Yeah…. yeah, you can, but we’re not fans of doing things twice, and you’ll likely eventually get tired of the harsh ride that comes with taking the cheap way out. You’re probably fine if you only plan to go down 1 or 2 inches, but springs that are made for lowered trucks tend to perform better, with stiffer spring rates that help take advantage of your truck’s lower center of gravity. This is one of those things that people kind of need to experience for themselves, so if you’re really dead set on lowering your truck the cheapest way possible, give it a shot. Just don’t ever, ever, heat your springs to lower your truck!
7. Are springs better than spindles?
We’re actually big fans of running drop springs and spindles together to slam trucks, but if you’re only going down a couple of inches, either is great. Drop spindles have the advantage of maintaining your original suspension travel (assuming you’re not also installing drop springs), while lowering springs tend to cost quite a bit less than drop spindles. The only cons to drop spindles are that, depending on the truck, you sometimes can’t run your factory wheels, and in some cases your turning radius can be slightly reduced. When deciding which spindles to buy, visit each manufacturer’s website to find out if this applies to your application.
8. Should I use hangers or shackles?
Again, this is one of those situations where we recommend using both together to slam the crud out of your truck, but if a major lowering job isn’t your style, either one achieves the same effect if you’re just going down a couple of inches. Drop shackles are definitely easier to install, as well as cheaper, so they’re the most popular choice by far. Drop hangers require you to remove the large factory rivets on your stock hangers, then bolt on the new hangers. Not a terribly complicated job, but definitely more time consuming than shackles.
9. Why should I lower my truck?
This question kind of hurts our feelings. Have you not thumbed through these pages before?! OK, OK, give us a sec to calm down a bit… Let’s start with the look. Lowering a truck always makes it look better. Always. And then there are the added benefits that come with a lower center of gravity and a performance-minded suspension. Also, it’s easier to find your truck in a parking lot when it doesn’t look like every other Chevy/Ford/Ram out there, not to mention how much easier it is to get into your truck! Why should’t you lower your truck? Did you ever think about that?
10. Do I have to notch my frame when I lower my truck?
Whether you’ll need to notch your frame will depend on how low your truck is going to be. Generally speaking, if you’re going to be installing an axle flip kit, you’re going to want to install a C-notch or step notch since your frame to axle clearance will be minimal at best. Notching your frame will give you back the suspension travel you need, which is especially important if you ever plan on hauling anything. If your axle isn’t flipped, you will probably still have enough clearance to be fine in most cases. All of this is assuming, of course, that your axle came installed underneath your leaf springs from the factory. Most 2WD mini-trucks come with the axle installed over the springs, so the above info mostly applies to full-size trucks. If you have a mini, we generally start thinking about a notch with anything more than a 3-inch drop.
By Mike Self